Universal Artist Gerhard Bronner Was The "Conscience Of Austria”

Cabaret artist, composer and writer Gerhard Bronner from Vienna died aged 84 in a hospital in Vienna on 19 January 2007 after having suffered a stroke some days earlier. He had had a decisive impact on the Vienna’s musical cabaret in the post-war period. On New Year’s Eve he had still performed at Theater Akzent in Vienna, presenting a mix of famous cabaret songs, such as “Der G’schupfte Ferdl“ or “Der Papa wird’s schon richten“ (previously interpreted by Helmut Qualtinger, one of the heavyweights of this genre).

Born in Vienna’s working class district Favoriten in 1922, he had to flee from the Nazis to Palestine in 1938. He returned to Vienna in 1948, worked as an entertainer and pianist in Marietta Bar, which he bought in 1955. It became a springboard for many artistic careers, e.g. of Georg Kreisler, Louise Martini, Peter Alexander and Helmut Qualtinger.

The artist was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art and the Nestroy Ring of the City of Vienna. He recorded more than 60 long-playing records. In addition, he wrote scores of more than 120 TV entertainments and 2,000 radio programmes, e.g. the popular series “Guglhupf“ – created jointly with Peter Wehle – and “Schlager für Fortgeschrittene“. His achievements include the translations of US musicals (“My Fair Lady“, “Alexis Sorbas“ and “Cabaret“) and new versions of classical operettas, such as “The Bat” based on Johann Strauß for Covent Garden Opera in London. In 2004 he published his memoirs “Spiegel vorm Gesicht“. In 2005 he created together with Elfriede Ott “Noch immer – schon wieder“ at Stadttheater in Walfischgasse in Vienna, which became a highlight in Vienna’s tradition of witty cabaret programmes. Ott now delivered a touching speech at his funeral.

Gerhard Bronner was the father of four children, among them Oscar Bronner, the co-founder and editor of the magazine “profil“ and the daily “Der Standard“.

Numerous politicians mourn Bronner. Chancellor Gusenbauer described him as the “artistic conscience of Austria. He was a fierce critic of the dark sides of the Austrian history, of which he had been a victim”. Former Secretary of State for Art Franz Morak considered Bronner the “Prometheus bringing irony into Austria’s reality of the 1950s and 1960s“. His cabaret songs became part of “the repertoire of popular culture“. Minister for Culture Claudia Schmied referred to his death as an “irreplaceable loss”. In their obituaries Vienna’s Mayor Michael Häupl and City Councillor Andreas Mailath-Pokorny explained Gerhard Bronner’s “ambivalent relation“ to Vienna, as it was no longer possible for him to feel at home in this city.

Gerhard Bronner was buried in a tomb of honour of the City of Vienna on 26 January 2007. Among the mourners was Federal President Heinz Fischer, who gave a moving speech.

© Federal Chancellery Austria